Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors – Chapter 9

April 14, 2017 No Comments »
Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors – Chapter 9

IN THIS EPISODE: …The Police arrive at the site of the werewolf massacre. What’s all this then…?

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CHAPTER 9 – Police on the Scene

Inspector Harry Dennis – The Docks of London

That Same Day

Inspector Harry Dennis shook his head, exhausted.  It had been a long day already, and this visit to the docks made it clear that his tour of duty wasn’t going to end any time soon.

What lay before him was a terrible crime.

Most of his juniors were busy losing their lunches, either around the corners of the nearby dilapidated warehouses or off the side of the wharf into the Thames.  (Damn considerate of them to try not to spoil the crime scene.)

And what a horrific scene it was!

With all the mess, it was a wonder someone hadn’t run across the murders sooner—not that a situation like this would have been easier to stomach after breakfast rather than after lunch.

Dennis didn’t blame the junior officers and patrolmen for getting sick, but he’d been in the Great War and had seen more than a few appalling things out on the front lines.  Few as horrendous as this, though:

A wide swath of blood and guts carpeted the aging riverside boardwalk, and body parts lay strewn all around.  It was an awful thing to have to see, and the carnage made it hard to tell how many people might have been slaughtered.

Dennis had a hunch he knew the number of victims, though: four.  And he probably knew who all of them were, too—“Mick” McDowell and his gang.  (Dennis had recognized one of the severed heads.)

“S’pose I’ll have to give the wife a ring, if we can find a phone anywhere around here,” he mused aloud.  “Tell her I’ll be late for dinner.”

“I think I spotted a call box a few blocks back when we were driving in,” Sergeant Bruce Hoey observed.  He was the only other member of the team who wasn’t busy vomiting.  (He’d fought against the Germans as well.)  “I’m sure the operator back at the station wouldn’t mind patching you through to home.”

“Thanks, Sergeant.  I may just do that, once we get this mess a bit more… tidied up.”

“Tidied up is right, Sir.  I haven’t seen anything like this in all my born days, not even during the war.  Nor do I hope to ever see its like again!”

“I agree with you there, Sergeant.”

“Although…”

And the sergeant paused, as if waiting for permission to continue.

Dennis furrowed his brow.  Sometimes, Hoey could be a bit obtuse and over-deferential where authority was concerned, even though the two of them had been working together for close to five years.  “Although what, Sergeant?”

“It does put me to mind of something I heard from my old dad recently…”

Hoey’s father, Nigel Hoey, was Chief of Police in Longford, a small town in Derbyshire, about a half day’s travel from London.  “Well?  Out with it, man.”

“About a month back, my old man ran across a similar grizzly scene.”

“Murder?”

“Well, that’s the thing of it, Sir.  It was hard to say for sure.  The victim was near ripped to pieces, just like these blokes.  He was a stone-cutter by trade, worked in one of the local quarries.  He was something of a rapscallion, as you might say—bit of a drunkard who liked to get into fights.  Also did a bit of poaching, to hear my dad tell it.

“The thing is, even for all that, nobody in town seemed to hold enough of a grudge against the man to want to kill him—not like that, anyway.  Found what was left of him in the woods, they did, practically torn limb from limb.”

“Maybe he ran into another poacher and got into some kind of dispute.”

“My dad checked into that, Sir, but it didn’t pan out.  All the locals are pretty upstanding citizens, as you’d understand in a place as small as Longford.  It’s not a good spot to be trying to keep secrets—not more than the usual ones, anyway—and there hadn’t been no itinerants drifting through the area lately, either.”

“Well, if your father didn’t think it was murder, Sergeant, what was it?”

Wolves, Sir.”

“Wolves, Sergeant?  Don’t be absurd!  There haven’t been any wolves in England since the seventeenth century—not even in Derbyshire.”

“They said there was one up in Scotland back around the turn of the century, Sir.”

“But Scotland is not Derbyshire—and it’s certainly not London.  You’re not suggesting that a wolf did this, are you Sergeant?  I’m sure we’d have had reports if any had escaped from a zoo.  And it would take a whole pack of wolves—rabid ones, at that, I’d say—to overpower four grown men like this.  ‘Mick’ McDowell and his bully boys were not known for their delicate and retiring ways.”

“Be that as it may, Sir.  I’m just tellin’ you what happened with me old dad, up north.  A wolf was what the coroner figured done it, though me dad figured it was more likely some kind of large dog or hound.  They never did turn one up, though, despite searching the farms and kennels from Derby to Stoke-on-Trent.  Checked the circuses and traveling shows, too, and even the local gypsies.  Didn’t find neither a hair nor a tooth of the beast what done it.”

Inspector Dennis rubbed his temples, futilely trying to ward off the headache building behind his eyes.

“I’m not sure what help all that is here, Sergeant,” he finally said.  “Unless you’re suggesting that some kind of dog might have done this.”  He tried to make plain with his tone that he didn’t think it likely.

“Maybe a trained dog, Sir,” Hoey suggested.

“Trained dog…!” Dennis scoffed.  “Although…”

“Although what, Sir?”

“A dog trained by a rival gang, and then used to cover up their crimes… That might explain it.”

“It might indeed, Sir.”

Dennis frowned.  “That doesn’t seem very likely, though.  Why go to all that trouble?”

“McDowell was not much liked, Sir.”

“But it’s not like he and his mates were a real gang, either,” Dennis noted.  “They were just ruffians who liked to beat up strangers for drinking money.  Certainly there were a few more serious crimes on their rap sheets, but nothing that might have put them in the way of the tongs or the IRA or any true gangsters.”

“Maybe they decided to branch out into new territories, and bit off more than they could chew, as it were.”

“Maybe,” Dennis said.  He doubted it, though.  “I almost wish it were a gang, Sergeant.”

“Why is that, Sir?”

“Because, Sergeant, if it’s not a gang, then that means we’ve got a real problem on our hands.  Lack of a gangland connection means there’s a maniac loose on the streets of London, and we have no idea who he is or where he might strike next.”

TO BE CONTINUED…!

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